Looking for things to do in the Tweed? Here is a weekend itinerary that takes in the best of the Tweed Coast and the Tweed Valley.
The story of the Tweed region begins some 23 million years ago when the enormous Tweed volcano erupted and sent rivers of molten rock flowing into the surrounding countryside. The volcano has long since collapsed leaving behind Southern Hemisphere’s largest caldera, or crater, with Mount Warning at its centre, the peaks of Lamington and Border Ranges National Parks marking its western rim, and the Tweed’s idyllic coastline in the east.
Here is a suggested itinerary for a weekend in the Tweed that takes in the beaches and the headlands as well as hinterland towns, galleries & museums and the iconic foodie experiences. And if you are thinking of venturing further afield – Tweed Valley lies within easy reach of the Scenic Rim, home to some of the best Queensland wineries and World Heritage-listed National Parks.
Where is the Tweed?
The Tweed is located in the Northern Rivers of NSW between Byron Bay Shire and the Queensland border. Most Australians are familiar with the twin towns of Coolangatta and Tweed Heads that straddle the border between Queensland (Coolangatta) and NSW (Tweed Heads). But the broader Tweed Region stretches far beyond Tweed Heads and takes in Tweed Valley and the Tweed Coast.
What is the Tweed known for?
The Tweed is a seaside holiday destination famous for its spectacular nature. From the ancient Gondwana rainforests to the towering Mount Warning to the dramatic coastline with endless beaches, the Tweed is all about enjoying nature. It also has an up-and-coming dining scene with some iconic establishments like the Tweed River House and Cubby Bakehouse.
Day 1: Beaches and Headlands of the Tweed Coast
The Tweed Coast is 38 kilometres of expansive sandy beaches punctuated by towering rocky headlands between Tweed Heads and Byron Bay Shire. Whether you are a hiker, a surfer, a photographer or an all-around adventurer, Tweed coast will not leave you unimpressed. And the best way to explore it is on a beach-hopping road trip.
Kingscliff Sea Wall
Start your adventure at Kingscliff sea wall – a 300-metre-long and 6-metre-deep engineering marvel that frames the mouth of Cudgen Creek where it meets the ocean. From the tip of the wall on Cudgen headland, you’ve got sweeping views of Kingscliff Beach to the left and South Kingscliff beach to the right with nothing but the ocean in front of you.
Cudgen creek is a tranquil waterway popular with families for its sheltered beaches. While both beaches are surf beaches, perfect for more active fun in the sun.
There is a lovely cycleway/walking path running parallel to South Kingscliff beach that’s good for spotting Yellow-tailed black cockatoos and if you are lucky, Glossy black cockatoos.
Cabarita Beach & Norries Head
From Kingscliff head to Cabarita beach and go for a walk to Norries headland. The views from Norries Head are easily some of the best on the Tweed coast. To the right, the broad sandy strip of Cabarita beach stretches for as far as the eye can see. To the left, the equally expansive Casurina Saltbush Beach curves toward the horizon. From the narrow neck that connects Norries Head to the coastal escarpment, you can see both beaches running in the opposite direction out of your field of view.
Cabarita Beach is one of the best places to stay overnight along the coast. Pick a room with a view, like The Beach Cabarita apartments and wake up to glorious summer sunrise, or gaze at the stars at night. The main street in Caba has some fantastic restaurants, including the iconic The Burrow Cabarita Beach. Oh, and don’t forget to check out Cabarita’s street art.
Cabarita beach itself is a popular strip of sand and a great spot to while away an hour or two. It even has its own historic site.
For a tranquil escape, check out Norries Cove accessed from Lions Park. It is a sheltered hidden gem tucked in between Norries Headland and Cabarita beach.
Fingal Headland & Dreamstime Beach
Fingal Headland is home to one of Tweed’s most interesting geological formations, a reminder of its volcanic past. Lying a stone’s throw off the coast, the Fingal Head causeway is a rocky promontory made up of hexagonal vertical columns rising out of the water like giant black Lego pieces.
To geologists, such formations are known as ‘organ pipes’. They are believed to have formed when lava sipped through cracks in bedrock and cooled rapidly. Millions of years of erosion dissolved the softer rock around them leaving the basal columns exposed. Such rocks can be found throughout Australia, including the Breadknife rock in Warrumbungle National Park, Sawn Rock at Mt Kupitar National Park, and Organ Pipes on Mount Wellington in Hobart.
The Aboriginal custodians of the land, however, have known the causeway for thousands of years as Pooning, meaning Echidna. There is a fascinating story about how Pooning ended up in the ocean, and you can hear it at the interactive exhibit at the Tweed Regional Museum in Murwillumbah (you can drop into the museum on Day 2).
Beyond the causeway, is Cook Island Island Aquatic Reserve – a popular spot for swimming with sea turtles tours. There is also a local pod of about 60 dolphins living in the waters around Fingal Headland and they are frequently seen from the headland.
The views from the top of Fingal Headland are just as likely to take your breath away as those from Nobbies Headland. Dreamtime beach stretches all the way to Hasting Point, and Fingal beach, on the other side of the headland.
If you are looking for the perfect beach on the Tweed Coast, the secluded Dreamtime beach might just be it. After all, it’s been voted the 3rd best beach in Australia.
End your Tweed coast adventure with a sunset at Hasting Point Lookout. Hasting Point is the Tweed’s smallest vilalge, so there isn’t that much to do beyond enjoying the tranquility of the landscape. There is a lovely short walk along the clifftop, framed by the odd-looking pandanus trees with their chunky stilt roots gripping the rocky soil.
Or for something a little more romantic, throw a picnic blanket on the grass and enjoy the changing colours of the sky over the seemingly endless Cudgera beach.
Where to stay on Tweed Coast
Staying on the Tweed Coast means stayng by the beach. Some of the best accomodation options along the coast are the spacious Drift Apartments – Tweed Coast Holidays; the hipster The Blue Water, Dreamtime Beach; and the stylish Dune Beach Front Apartment 15
Day 2: Sights and Culinary Delights of the Tweed Valley
If you are an early riser or a keen photographer, dont miss the opportunity to catch the sunrise on the beach. Norries Cove is particularly picturesque in the golden light.
Bob Whittle Murwillambah Airfield
Airfield Ave, South Murwillumbah
Otherwise start your day with a drive through Tweed’s picturesque countryside to Bob Whittle Murwillumbah Airfield. Why? To get the iconic Tweed photograph of a small white plane with Mount Warring towering in the background.
There isn’t much else to do at the airfield so it will be a quick visit and an easy detour from the next activities.
Tweed Regional Gallery
2 Mistral Rd, South Murwillumbah
Perched on top of a hill overlooking the lush green countryside, Tweed Regional Gallery is an elegant, light-filled space showcasing local art talent. The gallery’s centrepiece is the Margaret Olley Art Center which contains the entire interior of the artist’s house. That’s right, the contents of Margaret Olley’s Sydney house were painstakingly catalogued, photographed, transported, and re-assembled inside the gallery.
So if you ever wondered what it’s like to visit an artist’s house, this is your chance. It’s an incredible masterpiece celebrating the life and work of Australia’s most celebrated painter of still life and interiors.
Tweed Regional Museum
2 Queensland Rd, Murwillumbah
If you wanted to get a better idea of how the landscape of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest volcano caldera was formed, Tweed Regional Museum has a fantastic digital exhibit that shows 23 million years of the evolution of the volcano in about 10 seconds. It gives you a really good perspective on the entire Tweed Region from its hinterland ranges to its stunning coastline.
And since you are already here, check out the local history exhibit. Particularly interesting is the story of Australia’s biggest and still unsolved bank heist. You can even still visit the bank in the nearby town of Murwillumbah.
Tweed River House
131 River St, South Murwillumbah
Tweed region has no shortage of fine dining establishments, but there is one place that is hard to beat – Tweed River House.
Situated on a hill above Tweed River, the River House is a magnificently restored grand mansion offering a refined Provence cuisine menu. The moment you step through the door, you find yourself wrapped in old-world elegance and class.
Depending on the weather, you could either sit in the indoors dining area under the original pressed tin ceilings or enjoy the panoramic views of the river and Mt Warning from the River Terrace.
And while the interiors draw you in, the delicious French cuisine makes you linger. The food is so good that in 2022, Tweed River House won a Chef’s Hat in the Australian Good Food Guide Awards.
Known as “Art Deco town” Murwillumbah still holds the charm of a 1920-30s rural Australian town. The 1930s Imperial Hotel looks like it sprung up from a movie set.
Murwillumbah’s other claim to fame is being the site of Australia’s biggest and unsolved money heist when in 1978 a whopping 1.7 million was stolen from the bank. The robbery was so famous that a local businessmen began selling t-shirts with the cartoon of the robbery. The shop is still there, on the main street of town. And, yes, they still carry the robbery t-shirt.
Amidst the facades of an art decor cinema and a milkshake bar, there are some quirky shops selling of sorts of delightful gems. There is the funky Scarlett’s Vintage Clothing filled with one of a kind vintage frocks and jewels, The Foundry selling gifts for readers, dreamers and creators, and the Funky Bunny Designs specializing in handmade pieces of wearable and wall art.
Uki is an adorable tiny town perched in the lush forest at the foot of Mt Warning. It is home to one of Australia’s most famous pubs – Mount Warning Hotel. Although the original 100-year-old burned down in 2013, and the new pub is one story shorter, it is still an iconic site that brings people from the entire region to the quiet town of Uki.
Whatever else you do in Uki, don’t miss the Bastion Lane Espresso. A vintage and still functioning post office that had been converted into a hipster espressor bar. So you can buy your stamps and order your coffee at the same time.
The cafe also displays art by local artists, so it’s a very interesting, inviting, and unusual space.
There are a few shops on the main street and an adorable Chillarium – a commumity space and a fusion of art and plants. The entire town has an artisan air about it, much like Mogo or Bodalla on NSW South Coast, but a little more low-key.
Crams Farm Reserve
A 20-minute drive from Uki via Doon Doon Road (Midginbil turn-off) you find one of the Tweeds most beautiful hidden gems – Crams Farm Reserve. It is a beautiful wetland lying in the shadow of Mt Warning that has a very unusual appearance… for Australia. The mountain peaks and the thick forest give the area Rockies-like appearance that would be more at home in Canada or northern US.
The facilities available at the reserve (electrical BBQs, picnic tables, amenities block, and shelter shed) make it the perfect spot for a picnic. And for the most dramatic views, of course, try to visit the farm at sunset. You couldn’t ask for a better way to finish your Tweed adventure than watching hundreds of birds fly across the glowing sky.
Where to stay in the Tweed Valley
While the coast is all about beach pads, the hinterland is all about mansions and retreats. Some of the most fabulous options are the bugalows at Jodha Bai Retreat, Mavis’s Cabins @ Mt Warning near Uki, and the 424 Trees Studio in Tallebudgera.
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